Last month, Twitter fans received a shock when a study revealed that exactly zero percent of its 1,900 participants would consider paying for the service. Last night, film critic Roger Ebert challenged those findings, showing that a significant number of his followers feel differently.
About 4,000 of Ebert’s followers responded to a one-question survey he created, and out of that group, 19.4 percent indicated they’d be willing to pay for Twitter. That’s a pretty huge number compared to zero.
Twitter would still face a lot of problems if it tried to make everyone fork over some money, of course. Ebert wrote, "Heavy tweeters can spread their message, whatever it is, no matter what their motives, to an enormous potential audience. If 80% of that audience disappeared, would they lose their enthusiasm? Would most of those in Third World nations drop off the map?"
Still, the results of Ebert’s survey make Twitter look much less trivial, which is important as the site tries to attract advertisers.
The results also help clear the way for Twitter to at least create a special tier or two for which users would have to pay. Then, as various rumors have indicated over the years, the users could perhaps get access to analytics data, see fewer ads, and/or have their accounts marked with a unique logo.
Ebert concluded, "I don’t have any answers. I succeeded only in proving 0.00% was too low."